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Digital Seminar

Module 2: Working with the Amygdala

Catherine Pittman, PhD, HSPP
2 Hours 12 Minutes
Audio and Video
Jun 30, 2018
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar


* Credit Note - ***CE Details Can Be Found Under the First Module


Catherine Pittman, PhD, HSPP's Profile

Catherine Pittman, PhD, HSPP Related seminars and products

Saint Mary's College

Catherine M. Pittman, PhD, HSPP, has a background in cognitive behavioral therapy, neuropsychology, fear-conditioning research, and treated anxiety-based disorders in clinical practice for over 25 years. Her experience makes her uniquely qualified to provide a clear understanding of neuroscience and how that informs the selection and application of successful anxiety treatment strategies.

Dr. Pittman is the author of the popular book, Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety Panic, and Worry (New Harbinger Publications). Her new book, Taming Your Amygdala, will be published in Spring 2022 (PESI Publishing & Media). Dr. Pittman is a professor of Psychology at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN. She regularly presents workshops at national conferences and national webinars on anxiety treatment and is an active member of the Public Education Committee of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Catherine Pittman maintains a private practice and has an employment relationship with Saint Mary's College. She receives royalties as a published author. Dr. Pittman receives a speaking honorarium, recording, and book royalties from Psychotherapy Networker and PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Catherine Pittman is a member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Additional Info

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.

Target Audience

Social Workers, Psychologists, Counselors, Teachers, Occupational Therapists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Case Managers, Addiction Counselors, Therapists, Nurses Other Mental Health Professionals


  1. Demonstrate to clients the neurological processes underlying anxiety in a clearly understandable manner that enhances client motivation.
  2. Incorporate personalized goals to increase client engagement and focus client efforts on making lasting changes in the brain.
  3. Characterize the differences between amygdala-based and cortex-based anxiety symptoms in order to select the most effective treatment interventions.
  4. Individualize practical and evidence-based methods to resist anxiety and improve symptom management in clients.
  5. Demonstrate strategies for calming the amygdala without use of medication to improve client level of functioning.
  6. Recommend exposure-based strategies that change the amygdala responses to triggers to reduce anxiety symptoms.
  7. Employ a variety of strategies to improve clinical outcomes utilizing evidence-based strategies that target cortex-based responding, including cognitive restructuring, psychoeducation, cognitive defusion, distraction, and mindfulness.
  8. Differentiate symptom-producing cognitions characteristic of specific disorders, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as it relates to case conceptualization.
  9. Analyze the clinical implications of how SSRIs and SNRIs promote the process of treating anxiety.
  10. Determine detrimental effects of benzodiazepines as it relates to anxiety treatment outcomes.
  11. Differentiate between rebound anxiety and relapse symptoms to inform the clinician’s choice of treatment interventions.
  12. Breakdown the key elements of mindfulness practices in managing symptoms of anxiety.
  13. Present client education exercises that can be utilized in session to train clients in the use of mindfulness techniques.
  14. Appraise common reactions to aversion and utilize clinical strategies to replace them with mindfulness.
  15. Reframe exposure as an opportunity to teach the amygdala new responses in order to improve client engagement and treatment compliance.
  16. Utilize clinical strategies for exposure that reduce avoidance and train clients to push through anxiety.
  17. Employ effective strategies for reducing anxiety symptoms utilizing imaginal and in vivo exposure, including use of SUDS and attention to interceptive triggers.
  18. Provide clinical strategies for managing comorbid depression that reduce worry, rumination, and common cognitive errors while promoting positive thinking and social interaction.
  19. Use cognitive restructuring and cognitive strategies for managing symptoms of OCD and GAD that focus on scheduling obsession/worries and promote client acceptance of uncertainty.
  20. Implement interventions in a clinical setting that use a reconsolidation approach to reactivate a symptom-producing memory and disconfirm it.


Module 2: Working with the Amygdala

  • Explaining the Amygdala’s Role in Anxiety
    • The protective, evolutionary role of the amygdala
    • The amygdala and the stress/fear/anxiety response
    • The role of the amygdala in forming emotional memories
    • Explaining the Fight/Flight/Freeze response to clients
    • Teaching the amygdala
    • The language of the amygdala - communicating alarms and relying on pairings
    • Why the amygdala needs experience to learn
    • How “Triggers” are created in the amygdala


  • Managing the Amygdala
    • Essential for all Anxiety Disorders, PTSD, OCD, Depression
    • Symptomatic behavior is often a response to amygdala activation          
    • Interventions that impact the amygdala
    • The Vagus nerve’s role in recovery from the activation of the sympathetic nervous system
    • Interventions that reduce activation in the amygdala over time
    • Communicating with your client to enhance treatment compliance
    • Exposure: activating the fear circuitry created in the amygdala to generate new connections
    • Tips for effective exposure strategies
    • Exposure with response prevention is essential when treating OCD
  • Limitations and Risks in Neuroscience-Informed Treatment of Anxiety
    • The efficacy of evidence based treatments differ by individual and context
    • Research is constantly evolving
    • Using analogies and other psychoeducation communication
    • Medication information and interaction with interventions
    • More studies needed to support some observed clinical outcomes



Overall:      5

Total Reviews: 167


Erin S

"I liked that the presenter was so well organized/easy to follow."

Cheryl B

"This was the best professional development I have attended in a very long time. The content was highly relevant. It was technical but well-balanced with real life application of the strategies. Dr. Pittman was very relatable and sharing her personal experiences as a clinician was extremely helpful! In addition, she provided information and resources for further independent research. "

Crystal H

"Great job! I would definitely attend more of her trainings!"

Dorothy J

"I learned a lot. Thank you!!"

Leticia G

"Very useful information. Great Presentation. Very well organised and I felt that I was able to perfectly follow along the handouts, take the quiz and everything flowed beautifully. Thank you!"

Julie B

"Dr. Pittman is excellent! I learned so much taking this course."

Lisa D

"I will recommend this to collogues. Very well presented and very concise information."

Martha P

"This is one of the MOST helpful courses I've ever taken. The presenter was outstanding in her knowledge and delivery. Thank you for putting this together!"

Terri K

"Excellent program. Dr. Pittman was very impressive. I learned a great deal."

Sharon S

"I really loved this course and learned a great deal. I see a lot of clients with anxiety and have started to utilize material I have learned in my personal and professional life."

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